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Harris Tweed Festival unveils unique sculpture and festival tours

Press release   •   Sep 21, 2016 17:16 BST

The Loom by Sharmanka, credit Robin Mitchell

Am Beairt, (Gaelic for “The Loom”), has been commissioned by An Lanntair to be produced by renowned Glasgow-based Russian artists Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre. A key part of the Creative Place award winning project Bealach, the sculptural piece will be unveiled at An Lanntair on 1st October.

The piece will be accompanied by a photo essay by Robin Mitchell documenting the project, which draws on the history of the Harris Tweed mills.

The exhibition will mark the end of the Harris Tweed Festival, which has been running throughout the summer at An Lanntair and has been a key part of Scotland’s 2016 Year of Innovation Architecture and Design.

The kinetic sculpture, Am Beairt, has been created using parts of an old, Hattersley pedal-loom, which for weavers was the workhorse of the industry throughout the 20th Century. At the peak of the industry, 7 million yards of Harris Tweed were produced in 1966 and the villages of Lewis were said to ring to the signature clickety-click of this indispensable machine.

The loom for the sculpture originally came from the village of Balallan on the Isle of Lewis. It was disassembled on site and transported to Sharmanka’s studio in Glasgow’s Merchant City, where it was re-imagined, reinvented, reconfigured and rebuilt into a new piece of kinetic art.

The loom has been given a new function and a new identity of its own that tells the story of the Harris Tweed industry, embellished through the unique visual vocabulary of Sharmanka sculptor-mechanic Eduard Bersudsky. Essentially it is a machine re-built to tell its own compelling story, a metaphor for regeneration.

Audiences in many countries have been fascinated by Sharmanka magic. Based in Glasgow since 1996, they have gained a reputation as one of the city’s hidden treasures, building unique and thought-provoking sculptural art. Eduart Bersudsky is a self-taught visionary artist, who, as part of Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre, develops work that plays with music, light and shadow. Their work can be seen in Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art and their Millennium Clock is a star attraction at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Roddy Murray, Head of Visual Art and Literature at An Lanntair said:

“We have hosted Sharmanka’s amazing constructions and assemblages before but this is the first time that we have set them such a logistical and creative challenge. No-one knew or could foresee what could be created from the cast-iron cogs and ironwork, pulleys, rollers and shuttles, so it’s very exciting.”

Alan MacKenzie, VisitScotland Islands Manager, said:

“Sharmanka’s exhibition at An Lanntair is sure to deliver a fascinating new perspective on one of Scotland’s most treasured design icons. An innovative exhibition in itself, it is a truly fitting finale to the successful Harris Tweed Festival.

“From textiles to technology, architecture to fashion and design, the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is shining the spotlight on our greatest assets and icons, as well as our hidden gems.”

Tatyana Jakovskaya, Theatre Director of Sharmanka said:

The Hattersley Loom is an amazing piece of machinery, all its parts are beautifully designed - even those which are usually invisible to the audience. We turn it inside-outside to show this hidden beauty. The kinemat is populated by various animals - and just one human figure - a weaver, a crofter, a wise old man whose relentless work support the life of all of them.

We fell in love with Lewis and Harris from the first sight in 2005, and not only with Callanish Stones and sandy beaches, but also with a shed in Tarbert with endless variety of Harris Tweed designs. We bought some as a souvenir to remind us of the islands - and soon discovered that it is the best fabric to wear on walks in Scottish weather. We made two exhibitions in An Lanntair, in 2005 and 2011, and enjoyed every trip here.

As part of the Harris Tweed Festival (1 July – 13 November) An Lanntair are offering the Harris Tweed Tour experience during the month of October.

This will be a unique opportunity to spend a day immersed in the rich cultural tradition of the islands, learning more about the history and practice of the iconic Harris Tweed industry while travelling through the landscape that inspires it and visiting some of the locations central to its story.

 All participants will receive a special Tour Pack highlighting local opportunities. Each tour experience will run only once so early booking is advised.

Please visit the website for further information

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

The Harris Tweed Festival

  • The festival has been created as the result of a partnership between An Lanntair, The Harris Tweed Authority and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar as part of Scotland’s 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, and will be delivered as part of the Creative Place Award Winning project Bealach.
    Contact Kathryn Lamont Smith, Head of Marketing at An Lanntair:


  • Bealach is a transformational project that represents Stornoway as the gateway and passage into the Gaelic culture, creative communities and landscape of the Outer Hebrides. Bealach is a two year initiative supported by Creative Scotland’s Creative Place Award and led by An Lanntair that is commissioning cultural projects across Lewis and Harris.


  • SHARMANKA (Russian for Barrel-Organ) was founded by sculptor-mechanic Eduard Bersudsky and theatre director Tatyana Jakovskaya in St.Petersburg (Russia) in 1989. 
    Sergey Jakovsky joined them in his teens and grew into a light/sound designer and Technical Director. As part of the Am Beairt project his role was extended to co-creator of the kinemat - due to Eduard’s knee injury at the beginning of the work. Sergey stepped in and made a construction out of heavy cast-iron parts which Eduard populated with wooden carved figures.
    Audiences in many countries have been fascinated by Sharmanka magic, and based in Glasgow since 1996 it has gained a reputation as one of the city’s hidden treasures, developed unique and thought-provoking art and craft based projects and entertainment for any age. Eduard Bersudsky was the winner of a Creative Scotland Award in 2005.
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